An Outreach Role Hitting Close to Home: Disability Resource Programs and the PASS Program

Two of my energetic colleagues, Janet and Kaela, have been doing serious inroads with outreach to various student services offices on our campus. They titled the effort the PASS program, or Library Partnerships to Achieve Student Success. They set up a website here, and have built relationships with a number of offices on campus that directly serve student populations who may have special needs that the Library can help with.

Now that they have done the hard work of building relationships with university staff in those areas, and developed some outreach materials, programming, and reference hours, they asked for folks interested n helping them continue the program. I was very excited to volunteer to be our liaison to the Disability Resource Programs office, and I'm looking forward to helping in this area for a few reasons, not the least of which is that I identify with the student population.

If you're a Facebook follower of mine, you may know that I'm suffering from one of the worst rheumatic flares I've had since my RA diagnosis in 2011. In the past week, I've spent 4 days of 7 in the emergency room with out of control pain and inflammation; I've been out of work this week and negotiating some serious medications and long appointments with various medical specialists. I was diagnosed while at the beginning of my doctoral prorgram, and it took me a long time to realize I needed the services of my campus disability services office. In my current state, I am reminded how easy it is to become overwhelmed with the basics of survival.

CSU Channel Islands serves a number of nontraditional demographics. To be a student and dealing with with a disability on top of academics, work, social life, and family responsibilities can feel like drowning. I know what that feels like. I'm also proof that you can make it to the other side, and I know that when I was struggling to keep it all together, I would have loved to have someone who looked like me. (Personally, I found some satisfaction of folks I could identify with on the PhDisabled website, but it would have been so much more fulfilling to talk to someone in person.) To be able to serve as an ambassador for our library's services to students is always something I take great pride in. The opportunity to provide tailored outreach and programming to help students make the most of what the library has to offer...yep, that makes me happy.

I was actually out in town, and met a young lady who was in  a position to learn about my chronic health issues. One of her coworkers told her I worked at CI, and she mentioned she was having trouble as a newly matriculating student with paperwork, registering, and worrying about her disability issues. I managed to connect her with the right offices, and give her my info so she could always contact me. I told her my motto was that I may not always be the right person, but I can probably get students TO the right person for the job, they just need to find someone they ar comfortable asking for help. She ended up happy, I felt like I had been a good ambassador, everybody wins.

I am excited to be a resource for these students, and look forward to watching Janet and Kaela grow the PASS program. I think it will be an enormous help to our students, new and returning.


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